An Addiction Science Network Resource

Intravenous Drug Self-Administration (IVSA)

Laboratory animals can be surgically prepared with intravenous catheters that permit automated drug injections. Animals are then trained to press a lever to self-inject various drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. Most drugs that are addictive in humans are self-administered by laboratory animals, and drugs that are not self-administered by laboratory animals are generally not addictive in humans. Intravenous self-administration (IVSA) provides an animal model of human drug-taking behavior, and it offers an experimental procedure for studying the reinforcing properties of drugs. Indeed, IVSA is the most direct method of determining drug reinforcement. This important tool is used to study the biological basis of drug addiction and to develop new medications for the treatment of addiction. IVSA is also used to screen new psychoactive medications for possible abuse liability. This last application helps the pharmaceutical industry minimize the risk that new medications will be abused by humans.

Rat lever pressing for intravenous cocaine
Format: Mpeg
Length: 15 sec
Image size: 320 x 240
File size: 1.36 MB

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